Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Lessons In the Process of Extended Pain


“I haven’t always been a single man.
— Weddings, Parties, Anything, Father’s Day
Excruciating and never-ending. That’s two ways I’d describe the experience of a regular grief I’d feel every time I’d take my girls back home. Back to being alone again, without the ones I most loved, in a situation that I hated, was agonising and it lasted years. There was hardly anything that could shift the spiritual lament that came over me for a day or two hence each time.
And, yet, I haven’t felt that way in a long time now. With the girls having all but grown up, and having married again, there is now a new season.
It was the playing of the (“every Saturday it’s...) Father’s Day” song that sparked my memory for what life was like – for a few years.
I’m thankful for it now – that experience: the lonely exercise of forced singleness. I know God used such a hard and long-lasting thing to teach me what I could learn no other way.
I do not wish to sound glib. I do not want to patronise you who are facing this nemesis of loneliness – the single father or mother, among many who find themselves forced into their singleness; an extended period of great pain.
Even during these periods of anguish I could begin to appreciate that God was teaching me something I couldn’t learn any other way.
I took heart in that; my pain had a purpose, in that it was repetitive, and I would therefore not ever consider it insignificant. The anguish would change me; for the better. And I desired change. I was sick of the old me that landed me in this mess to begin with. And only I could say such a thing about myself.
As I entered into these sullen recesses of depression, God’s voice in me – his Spirit – beckoned me to search the things that might help. I read spiritual materials, including my Bible, I walked, I talked with God, I begged and cried, and... eventually... I learned.
My loneliest times taught me what even God could not teach me otherwise. I learned the value of learning is kindled in the crucible of agony. Learning about God, life, truth, and love occurs most powerfully when we are in our deepest pain.
***
Pain is never a waste, for there is no better teacher than pain. Her core subjects are Compassion, Kindness, Gentleness, and Patience.
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.

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